THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCESSIBILITY AND ORTHOPEDIC CARE
This April we recognize National Minority Health Month (NMHM). Our goal is to join a national movement to help raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority populations — while encouraging action through education, early detection, and control of disease complications.
Health Disparities: A National Conversation
Increasingly, there has been a larger national discussion around health disparities in minority populations — disparities that occur in orthopedics as well. For example, Baylor College of Medicine recently published a state of racial and ethnic health disparities overview. It specifically looked at patient outcomes related to the most commonly performed orthopedic procedure, joint replacement. Despite improvements in surgical pathways and overall health profiles, lower joint replacement outcomes continue to occur among minorities, particularly Black and Hispanic patients.
Why Health Disparities Exist
The underlying causes are vast and complex. There is a multitude of barriers that exist in minority communities. They can include social factors such as language, education level, income, living environment, caregiver support, and a patient’s life experience with healthcare professionals.
Particularly pertinent for orthopedic patients, there are studies that suggest disparities may partly result from patient-level factors, including minority patients’ longer delays before seeking care and a greater likelihood to refuse recommended services. Postponing care for orthopedic injuries on a whole typically results in outcomes that aren’t as great as when treatment is sought earlier.
Furthermore, recent studies revealed that despite similar education, amount of insurance coverage, number of comorbidities, and self-reported degree of osteoarthritis severity, African Americans were nearly 50% less likely than whites to perceive the benefits of total joint arthroplasty and 70% more likely than whites to recognize barriers to total joint arthroplasty. However, the good news is that these beliefs are reversible with appropriate educational efforts.
Even better news makes it clear that despite the persistence of health disparities, when the two minority groups experiencing the most disparities, Blacks and Hispanics, were analyzed over time, positive trends in terms of procedure utilization, health profiles, and outcomes were observed. These findings provide hope that efforts to tackle health disparities are making a difference.
Better Serving Our Patients
At Beacon, our goal is always patient first. With 42 doctors across 14 locations, the diversity and compassion of our staff guide us to put each patient first. We are committed to being sensitive to your unique needs, background, and experience while providing all patients with the information they need to make the best decision for themselves.
Moreover, our specialists are never on a clock. Our doctors spend time with each patient to ensure we understand their situation. From there, we work together to establish a care plan to provide the best treatment possible in a journey to recovery.
Learn more about how we can help you. We have same-day appointments available. Schedule your appointment with us now to experience the Beacon difference.